Since some seem inexplicably ready to anoint McCain the frontrunner, a dubious honour at this point that I’m sure Huckabee is pleased to let someone else have, it occurred to me that these same people are usually working on the assumption that McCain would be a competitive general election candidate.  Think about that for a moment.  As soon as you do, I think you will find yourself imagining an election campaign like Bob Dole’s, except that the candidate will not just seem ancient, out of touch and at odds with significant numbers of Republicans, but he will also be associated with reflexive militarism and a war that remains deeply unpopular.  He has the liability of being seen as too independent and unreliable by many conservatives while appearing as an angry warmonger to independents.  He’s not the sort of President conservatives would want to keep at arm’s length, as Jim recommends we do with anyone from this field, but rather someone from whom conservatives will want to flee.  In the event that he somehow became the nominee, he would not fare well in ten months’ time.  Almost as soon as he would give his acceptance speech, conservatives would start to feel buyer’s remorse, realising that even if he wins they will have to contend with some version of his awful immigration bill year after year.